Transcriptions from Thursday's practice
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Opening Statement:Alright, I know you have some questions for me, so I'll just open it up.
Q: What can you tell us about what happened with CB Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie?
A: OK. The DRC issue. In my opinion, it's the head coach's – I mean, I know Ben (McAdoo) has addressed it. So, to be quite honest here, I want to just leave it with Ben and what he said and I would stand on his comments.
Q: Have there been any complaints to you or has there been a desire for CB Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie to play more on the outside?
A: No. No. He's been great.
Q: What would you say about turmoil in the secondary and do you agree that there is?
A: No. No. Turmoil is we have guys injured and we haven't really found a groove. But, I don't feel that. I don't.
Q: Is it a concern for you that there are 11 games left and you're having issues with players?
A: Well, it's always going to worry any coach when you're not able to stay with the same 11 or 12 or 13 because we have different packages all the time. Now, when does that change? It generally changes with injuries or whatever happens. I mean, there's real life going on, too. So, when it does happen, we have to adjust. The players – they are still rolling and playing, the guys that have to go in. Coaches, we can't blink. I mean, in this league, you have to go on to the next game. You can't blink. You can't be looking backwards. You can't worry about what's already happened. You have to worry about what's going forward. So, we kind of put it in that same box. OK, who has to go now? Then we go. Nobody feeling sorry for you. Things not going to change.
Q: How much does it weaken your defense to go on without CB Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie?
A: I look at defense as a whole. To me, it still comes back to some continuity and playing as a group. I've made this quote to you guys before. I put it back up for the guys just yesterday, that we're going to chase perfection and rely on relentless. If we can get more of that, I think that'll help us. When you get hurt in this league, you have to overcome it somehow, some way. We're looking for a way.
Q: Are there guys that you feel confident playing extended snaps in the slot?
A: Ross (Cockrell) has a done a little bit of work there. We'll see where we are with other guys. Right now, he's what we got.
Q: Have you talked with CB Janoris Jenkins about leaving the field early in Sunday?
A: Not aware of him – no, I haven't.
Q: Why were you jogging after CB Janoris Jenkins after the game?
A: No. No. No. That had nothing – I don't even know. That was something else. That was something totally different. Yeah. Don't look at – that was just me and Janoris. I had talked to him earlier and he had asked me something and I went out and found the answer and that's all.
Q: Do you feel that the players have responded well with the CB Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie situation because it seems like they were surprised Wednesday when he wasn't here?
A: Again, I don't – Ben (McAdoo) has addressed it. I'm going to just let it rest on the head coach's comments.
Q: Are you sitting here thinking how are you going to convince your team you can win?
A: No. I don't feel like our guys need any convincing. Our guys just keep working. I mean, they do. They do. There's a lot of prideful guys. Whoever is behind the guy that's starting feels like he could be playing, so this is an opportunity for that person to step up. You can't look at it that way. We like to have everybody healthy and all the same guys for 16-20 games, whatever it is. Yeah, sure. But, that's not reality in the league. So, we have to find a way.
Q: Talk about DE Romeo Okwara getting banged up today?
A: Yeah. I don't know the whole story. I don't know all the specifics of that.
Q: What have you seen from defensive end Avery Moss so far?
A: I think Avery's done a really good job. I thought he did a good job this past week and I think I mentioned this – about three weeks ago, I remember watching tape, I put all the clips on for the rest of the guys, I thought he was getting better.
Q: What made you bench cornerback Eli Apple for the first three defensive possessions last week?
A: Yeah, I wouldn't call it a benching. That was more of a compliment to Ross [Cockrell] and what he's been doing out here. Ross has been out here working, we see it and we notice it. So, we want to get guys in rotations and we did, we rotated the guys right through, probably the same thing will happen in this particular game. You're going to need more than just two corners to make it through the year.
Q: Do you think Apple got that message?
A: Well, we've talked, everything's fine. We're going to need these guys to play. There's going to be guys playing and not playing all the way through the year, that's not going to change.
Q: It didn't seem as though you rotated the cornerbacks, so what was the thinking?
A: Well, part of it depends on what we're putting in. If we got three corners in, it could if it's only two corners in because we're in base defense. So, if I have to go back and count and you want to quote me on rotation and say it's not right. But, what we're trying to do is get guys on a rotation so that everybody's playing. But a little bit of it is dictated by what the offense gives us.
Q: Did somebody bump a referee last week, which caused a penalty?
A: I don't remember who. It wasn't [linebacker] B.J. [Goodson], B.J. was on the field.
Q: Do you know who it was?
A: I don't, I don't. But probably what happened, was somebody was in the white, or whatever. I hope it wasn't me [laughs]. But I didn't bump into an official. I remember the play, now that you're taking about it. Because they had a long gain and then they added on to it, it ended up being like a 37-yard play when it was all said and done. I don't remember exactly who.
Q: Why such trouble on third downs in the second half?
A: Good question. This is what happens on third down: anytime I make a third down call and it doesn't work, I question what I called and think I should've called something else. That's just how I am, that's just how I feel. So, could we have changed the calls? Yeah. I can remember a couple specifically. One was a blitz angle, they were a step away and if we just come with the angle we're supposed to, it's a successful play. What you're talking about is exactly what I talked about in the meetings on Tuesday, that to me is was third down in the second half that kind of got us. And we had some long ones, too. Third-and-nine, third-and-10. And I'm so into Denver now that I can't remember all of the plays, but I remember one specifically where it was a blitz angle. I do know we pressure a lot, but that was the game plan going in, so we weren't going to change that. And for whatever reason, they didn't work as well as we thought. They need to.
Q: What did you see from your run defense last week?
A: Again, I'm being honest with you now, I'm [onto] Denver, it's been three days. This is the disadvantage of answering these questions four days later. If I'm not mistaken – I remember two weeks ago, we had like a 35-yard run. We didn't have any of those [last week], but we had some eights and nines, and I know there were three explosive runs and an explosive run is a run over 10. I mean, our run defense needs to be better. Our tackling was better, it's not exactly where we want it, but we grade that all the time. So, if we keep continuing to improve there, hopefully our defense will improve. You're right about this group that we're playing this week, this is a really good back. I think he's really good. Strong. He's a one-cut downhill - if you're not tracking the hip or taking care of the cutback, he can make you pay.
Q: Did you end up using Rodgers-Cromartie more at a lot of different areas – safety, outside, inside – than you intended to at the start of the season?
A: That answer might be yes. But sometimes we do that to get other people – there was a time we were putting DRC back there because we wanted [safety] Landon [Collins] to be closer to the line of scrimmage, so it was a little bit of that going on. And I know we put a package in last week and that that was one where DRC was back, so there was a little flexibility. But, I think sometimes as you go through the season, you realize you need to put a couple of wrinkles in. Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
Q: How do you game plan without WR Odell Beckham and some of your other top receivers?
A: Well, certainly a big loss for us and wish him well and Brandon (Marshall) well in their recovery. We have some young guys that have to step up, you know, guys who have had a chance to be involved in training camp and preseason and they'll get their opportunities and we have an offense, we have a system and we just try to find the best way to give those guys a chance to be successful and play to their strengths.
Q: How much are you going to lean on WR Roger Lewis Jr. since he's now the elder statesman?
A: Yeah. That's something else. He goes from being the fourth or fifth guy, young guy. Now he is the elder statesman. He's a versatile player. He's a guy that has made plays for us. Had a heck of a play the other day. He's smart and, of course, the versatility is something that we'll be relying upon to be able to move him around and help the other guys as well.
Q: How can you use TE Evan Engram?
A: Evan has done a lot of good things for us this year. He's a hard worker. He's very smart. We have to make sure we're cognizant of the fact that while he is doing a lot of good things and he's shown versatility both in terms of what he can do physically and what we put on him mentally, we don't want to over-tax him. We don't want to try to make things overly complicated in the sense that he's not able to go out there and play fast. So, we just want to be able to put him in positions where, certainly, which we've seen already this year. He's been in line. He's been displaced. Want to continue to try and do that, but not at the risk of trying to overload him to where all the sudden he's thinking so much that he's not able to play fast.
Q: How good is it to have WR Tavarres King back on the roster?
A: Great to have TK. He was someone that was on our roster last year. Obviously, had a heck of a big play against Green Bay in the playoff game last year. Didn't work out as far as him being on the initial 53, but he's taken good care of himself. He's in great shape. He looks fast and, of course, his familiarity with what we do is something that we're going to be relying upon.
Q: How did WR Travis Rudolph and WR Ed Eagan look in practice this week?
A: Two young guys, you're talking about Travis and Ed Eagan. Both of them have had a lot of work throughout the early part of the year on the show team. So, they do a lot of running and a lot of the fundamentals of route running and catching the football and so forth, have been good. Now, they had a chance to get more involved in our offense. They're out there, they're getting plays and signals from Eli (Manning). So, excited for the opportunity both those young guys have. We'll have them to rely upon, trust their training, trust their preparation and go out and have fun and enjoy that moment.
Q: Have you found that you have to get rid of some things you wanted to do with your receivers since you don't have some of the guys you had before?
A: I think every week, you have to look at the opponent and there's things that might look great on the board and they might be something that could yield a great result, but the risk in terms of being able to execute that and whether it's a blocking scheme in the run game or a pass protection, etc. We take that into account. But, in terms of having to limit the playbook or to pare down what we're doing – that really hasn't been a factor this week. We feel confident with those young guys. They haven't had the opportunities. They're certainly going to get them Sunday night.
Q: How much of a concern is right tackle, especially when you're heading into a matchup with Von Miller?
A: Well, Von Miller is a concern, regardless. I mean, you take the greatest right tackle, left tackle, take every tackle that ever played in the National Football League – they're going to struggle against Von Miller. That's, in my opinion, the best pass rusher in the game. So, we have to do everything that we can to try to help. They move him around. He can also – you'll see sometimes he's on the other side. He also really does us a favor and he'll go inside as well. So, we have our hands full and we'll have a plan of ways that we can try to either a combination of sliding the protection or like a lot of teams will do this, it's no secret, having a tight end or a back there to chip and to just try to do what we can to keep him off balance. But, it's a huge challenge. No doubt about it.
Q: Going in short-handed, how do you convince the team that you can function and compete against the Broncos' defense?
A: Well, I think it starts with the attitude and the mindset of this group of men. While we've come up short often times from either an execution standpoint or a gameplan standpoint, all of us, the one thing that has been consistent is it's been a gritty outfit. It's been a competitive group. I mean, certainly no moral victories. The facts remain, we're 0-5. But, they've had a resolve and a determination to compete even this last game only having two wide receivers and trying to function in conventional three wide receiver-type sets. So, they're a competitive group. They're a proud group and I think the attitude is one of which what a great challenge certainly. All the respect in the world to a defense, which is No. 1 in the National Football League and it's a loud environment and they're well-coached and they play hard. But, what a great opportunity for us to be able to go out and compete against the best and show what we're about when we're all together. So, I think that's really been the focal point in terms of us really seizing this as an opportunity, as a chance to go ahead and try to get that first win of the season in obviously a very difficult environment and one we're looking forward to competing in.
Q: You were running the ball well last week, then the running game seemed to disappear. Why did it go away?
A: I think there's different factors that can come into play, there's no doubt. That was the most productive game we've had of the season running the football. A lot of good things that took place on the offensive line and at the point of attack. The perimeter guys did a heck of a job. I mean, there were some runs that were sprung by the receivers and the backs – all of them hit the holes hard. You're always trying to strike that balance between continuing to run and then if you have opportunities to hit some shots down the field because that's the other question that comes up – 'Oh, how come we're not throwing the ball down the field?' And, unfortunately, we just missed a couple of those. So, it's just trying to strike that balance, I think, in terms of being able to establish that run, which will set up those play action passes, wear down the defense, so hopefully we can capitalize on it. I think that as the thing unfolds, you take into account some of the major injuries. I mean, that's never happened in my 20-plus years of coaching where you have five wide receivers dress for a game and you're into the fourth quarter and you have one healthy body out there. So, that is something that can kind of cause things to be adjusted somewhat.
Q: Do you think your offensive line will be the same this week as last week?
A: I was wondering when – we had a poll out there – when is the first offensive line question going to be. I really can't say in terms of who's going to be where. We work all the guys. They're a good group. They're versatile. We'll move people around. We'll have to wait and see how it all unfolds.
Q: What did you think of the offensive line with OL D.J. Fluker in and OL Brett Jones, etc.?
A: I think Brett Jones is a tough competitor, smart. I mean, I'm a huge Brett Jones fan and D.J. came in and demonstrated his physicality, which is something that's one of his strengths. You know, point of attack blocking. So, all of our guys, if given the opportunity, are going to be prepared and they'll be ready to go.
Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
Q: Who slides into the gunner spot on punt team?
A: That'll be a little bit of a committee. We've got [cornerback] Ross [Cockrell] taking some reps out there, [cornerback] Donte [Deayon] is taking some reps, [wide receiver] Roger Lewis. It's going to be a committee, it's not going to be just one guy. It'll be two or three guys that we'll roll through there, based on their playtime and based on the situation of the game.
Q: Who will return punts?
A: Again, a couple guys – [wide receivers] Ed Eagan and Travis [Rudolph] have done it for us in preseason, so you feel good, you know what to expect out of them. Ball possession, ball security is obviously the number one thing. When you get a young guy in there, they get real anxious and it's just about who's going to catch the ball, possess the ball and then we go from there.
Q: Can running back Shane Vereen return punts?
A: He has worked on it. I mean, he's never done it in a game, but he's been back there catching them at times when he's out on the punt team, but it's kind of based on if he's on the punt team or not.
Q: Was it fair to say that on the punt return depth chart, it was Dwayne Harris, then Odell Beckham Jr., then Sterling Shepard? Are you down to your fourth guy on the depth chart?
A: Yeah. But we didn't have these other guys on the roster, so it may have affected it, based on what Odell and Sterling were doing on offense. But, yeah. That's why you want to have a lot of guys. If you just hone in on one guy and one backup, you could get in trouble.
Q: How important was it to have punter Brad Wing get off to the start he did last week against Los Angeles?
A: Well, that's kind of what we expect out of him and our punt team. So, it was nice to see us get into those situations and we haven't really been in those situations, so it was a nice confidence booster for him.
Q: Does the altitude in Denver affect kicker Aldrick Rosas' range this week?
A: I think the situation of the game affects it. If it's the end of the half, then we've probably got some more yardage. We haven't kicked up there for a while, so we'll see what it brings.
Defensive End Olivier Vernon
Q: So do you expect to play on Sunday?
A: You know, just taking it day-by-day. Trying to see how it feels and go from there.
*Q: How are you feeling at this point? *
A: I'm feeling good. Better each day. Making progress, so that's a good sign.
Q: As a defense and as a teammate, how do you process what happened with DRC (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie)?
A: I don't really know all of the details with that, but all I know is what we have here. We are just going to keep playing ball.
Q: Does something like that reflect more order to a team or less order?
A: We've always had order on the team. Coach does a great job in setting what we have to do, so I don't know what happened. I don't know the details, but we're just going to move on forward. We got Denver.
*Q: How do you block out the outside negativity and keep a close group? *
A: Well, I know one thing, we're the only guys going out there on the field, so whatever everyone else has to say it doesn't really matter. We're just going to play Giants football and keep moving forward.
*Q: How much harder is it to play Giants football without DRC? *
A: He's a great, great player, great leader. Guys have got to step up. Guys are going to have to step up and that's what it is. That's the game of football. It's next man up and go from there.
Q: What would a win mean Sunday night?
A: A win would mean everything right now. Trying to get things rolling. That's been our mindset since Week 1 and all we can do is prepare, do our preparations. Not trying to reinvent the wheel and just play football.
Q: What's been the biggest change to Denver's offense in the fourth quarter compared to the first three?
A: I can't really say right now. I know those guys have a great team. They have a great defense, they have a great offense. Great offensive players, guys that can make explosive plays. Those games that they have played and that has happened to them, we haven't played them yet. So we got to go in with our mentality of playing all phases of the game. Trying to do what we can do. All of the stats, all of that other stuff don't really matter unless you're out there on the field. So all we got to do is go out there, playing, home field advantage for them, and get a W.
WR Roger Lewis Jr.
Q: What makes you confident that the new receivers added to the active roster can do the job?
A: The guys come in and work. Just like our top receivers, they come in and work. So, I feel real good about coming in with these guys.
Q: Does your approach change at all, going from being one of the reserve receivers to the number one receiver?
A: No, because I prepare every week like a number one receiver. I prepare and go hard every practice and I'm not going to change anything, I'm just going to go out and do what I've been doing since I was five years old.
Q: Is it strange to go out onto the field and not see Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall?
A: Yeah, yeah. It's kind of different because I was able to talk to those guys on the field, but now I've got to talk to them off the field and call them and stuff like that. It's kind of different. But I'm growing up and I'm ready to take the challenge.
Q: Are the cornerbacks coming to the receivers more this week to help you guys out and answer any questions?
A: We've got a scout team, they watch film, watch Denver's defense, and they're executing it, doing everything well, giving us good looks. So, just go out and play.
Q: What are your thoughts on Denver cornerbacks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib?
A: I know they're physical corners, good corners. Talib has been playing in the league for a while, he's smart. But at the end of the day, it's just football and just go out and do what I do.
Q: Is it an interesting dynamic for you, knowing that the Denver cornerbacks are watching film on you and coming after you, and not Beckham and Marshall?
A: It's pretty interesting, but at the end of the day, I knew one day this would happen. One day someone will be looking at film and trying to figure out what I'm doing and everything, so it's not a surprise.
Q: How much did your touchdown reception last week against Los Angeles make you feel good about yourself?
A: It felt great, with the touchdown catch. But, it's over with and I want to win. We lost that game and I want to get a win, I'm itching for a win right now.
DT Damon Harrison
Q: Why has Denver's running game been so successful this season?
A: Yeah, the offensive line is doing a great job of getting movement up front and creating seams for the running backs and they're making the right decisions and the receivers are blocking downfield. I would probably say they have the – once you watch film on everybody, their receivers, they're blocking more than usual. So, they're able to spring the big runs.
Q: What is your reaction to what is going on with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie?
A: I don't have a reaction.
Q: What do you think you can do to make sure the team stays together?
A: We don't have to do anything, nobody is straying away, feeling down or anything. We have a great group of men of integrity in here and they're doing a great job of making sure that they continue to work, no matter the outcome of these games. Sure, we'd like to win, but at the end of the day, if you don't you've still got a job to do come Tuesday morning.
Q: Is there an 'us against the world' mentality developing within the team?
A: It's always been that way from the very beginning. You can't try to change your mindset. Maybe you just tweak some things that you've done throughout the week to try to get a different outcome. But, it's always been us against the world.
Q: With trying to stop the run, is tackling still the focus?
A: Yeah, tackling and just making sure everybody is pursuing the ball relentlessly, as we did in previous years. Like I told you all from the beginning, nobody cares about what we did last year. Teams are coming here running the ball, think they're going to have success and I think we'll see more of the same on Sunday.
Q: Are you stunned a little that you are 0-5?
A: Yeah. When you look at us on paper and we brought the majority of the guys back [from last season], it shouldn't be like this. But it's all correctable things, it's just about going out there and doing it on game day because you see it on the practice field, we do it on the practice field. But we just have to bring it out there on Sundays.
Q: What has been Head Coach Ben McAdoo's message to the team?
A: I don't know, you'll have to ask Ben, I'm not one to tell you anything our coach says.
CB Janoris Jenkins
Q: What happened at the end of last week's game, when you went into the locker room early?
A: I didn't expect the timeout to be called, so I just walked in, as if everybody was going on the field, the game was over and I just went in.
Q: Did Head Coach Ben McAdoo have an issue with that?
A: No, he came to me and asked me and I told him. We had a nice little talk and that was it.
Q: When was your talk with McAdoo?
A: That was when we got back. He asked me about it when we first got back, that Tuesday for practice. And then he recently asked me about it again today, and that was it. It was nothing serious, nothing like that.
Q: So no punishment came from it?
A: I mean, why would there be a punishment? No comment.
Q: What is the mood like in the locker room?
A: Just stick together. We know adversity is going to hit from all types of angles. And just staying focused and just being there for one another.
Q: What is your reaction to cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie being suspended indefinitely?
A: No comment.
Q: How difficult is it in the secondary now, without Rodgers-Cromartie?
A: Next man up. We understand the situation. Like I said, next man up. Everybody has to be prepared.
Q: What would a win this week mean for the team?
A: It would mean a lot. We've been preparing like we're going to win, we want to win and whatever the outcome may be, just know that you gave it your all. But coming out with a victory would be nice.
Q: Is the team still together?
A: Oh yeah, we're still together. People try to call distractions, but keep our head together, stay tight and stay together.
Q: Do you think that a player being suspended is a distraction?
A: No comment.
Q: How do you prevent what happened with Rodgers-Cromartie from affecting yourself and the rest of the team?
A: No comment.
Q: What is your confidence level in the other guys in the cornerback room?
A: Man, just lead the guys. Just tell them to go out and play to the best of their ability. Give it all they've got. I'm with them 100 percent, whatever the situation or the outcome may be. But just let me know that you gave it your all.
Q: What does Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas bring to the table?
A: A big, physical guy. The quarterback likes to target him a lot. They like to go to him.
Q: What has been different about Denver's offense in the fourth quarter that has led to their struggles?
A: Just the fourth quarter, it seems like they're just trying to stay within the game, manage the game, just continue to run the ball. If they need to take a throw or two, they'll take it. But if not, they'll just run it, pass it every now and then.
Q: How do you make sure your teammates block out any negativity or outside noise?
A: Just focus on football. Just worry about what's going on in football, in the locker room, in the meeting room, and everything will be okay.
Q: Do you sense that everybody has been focused and do you like the energy that you've seen this week?
A: I mean, I like it. I can say I really like it because everybody has been trying to prepare. Not that many guys have played, so everybody has got to step up. So, I feel like we've been focused.
Q: Has the cornerback group had to help the recently added wide receivers get up to speed?
A: Yeah, you've got to understand, they're going against Denver, a talented group, and you've just got to pick my brain, as a receiver on my team, and just see what I can possibly give you or help you out. And I think they've been doing a good job of that.
Q: What can you learn from your seasons with the Rams when your team struggled, that you can bring to this team now?
A: Go in and just do your job. Hopefully everyone will come along, and just do it to the best of your ability. They've started picking it up.
Q: As a veteran, how much do you feel you need to be in the younger players' ears?
A: Just stay on them and make sure nothing goes wrong because at any moment, at any time, anything can happen. And you've always got to be prepared for it.
Q: Has it been strange not having Rodgers-Cromartie in the position meetings this week?
A: No comment.